Wargames Jungle Terrain Tutorial

Tutorial

In this tutorial I guide you step by step in creating awesome looking jungle terrain pieces for your 28mm wargames like Warhammer 40.000.

Jungle terrain is something I wanted to build for quite some time now, but never dared to tackle.

Part of my (hobby) new year resolutions was to finally build a jungle. I also decided to document the process in the form of a tutorial.

Let ‘s get to the workbench and start crafting Jungle terrain for our wargames.

Inspiration for jungle terrain

Before starting any project, I’m looking for inspiration. Sources can be the internet, movies or that one Magic the Gathering card you always admired.

Jungle Basin, Magic the Gathering, Visions
I was never much into Warhammer 40k, but I was always tempted to build an army of Catachan jungle fighters for other games. One day…
One of the best moments in cinema history (imo). Or, if it bleeds we can kill it.

The idea for wargames terrain

Fill a 90×90 cm tabletop with jungle terrain. Larger than standard scatter terrain. For use in Sci-fi, fantasy and historical settings. 28mm scale

Planning the jungle

I chose plastic bases to avoid warping and increased stability. Over the last months I collected a lot of plastic plants. I decided to build 12 midsize pieces to start out. Probably I’ll leave it to that, since I’m having a serious terrain storage issue.

Materials:

  • 2mm plastic sheets (or any other base material of your choice)
  • aluminum foil
  • dry wall compound (or air drying clay)
  • PVA glue
  • brown acrylic craft paint
  • green acrylic craft paint (optional)
  • dry! coconut fiber potting soil block or saw dust flock
  • static grass
  • leave litter (seeds from birch trees) (optional)
  • dried sticks (from the forest … obviously)
  • variety of plastic plants

Tools:

  • retractable blade
  • coarse sand paper
  • hot glue gun

Bases

Let’s start with base!

With a retractable blade I roughly cut the roundish bases out of 2mm rigid plastic sheets. I then beveled the edges with that same knive, gave it a rough sanding around the edges and finally roughed up the smooth surface with a wire brush (or with rough sand paper).

I hot glued “heaps” of crumbled aluminum foil randomly to each base. Be careful to not burn yourself! The heat of the glue immediately transfers to the metal.

I then covered the aluminum with dry wall compound. I applied it directly with my fingers.

Let it dry for at least 24 hours.

Base coating the terrain

Time for painting the bases!

I mixed brown acrylic paint (burnt umber) with 1/3 PVA glue and some drops of water and applied it to all of my bases. The PVA will (hopefully) strengthen and protect the dried dry wall compound. The mixture was absorbed very well into the compound and adhesion to the base was very good.

I left all of my 12 primed bases to fully dry before applying the next coat of paint. I put them on pieces of leftover Styrofoam blocks to raise them from the surface they are drying on to avoid staining of and sticking to the surface. After all there is some glue in that paint.

Basing, 1st try (or how to learn from your mistakes)

I decided against my classic sand and stone mixture for these jungle bases. Instead I went for garden soil. To be more precise for these coconut fiber water soluble potting soil blocks i bought in an ACTION shop. since they come fully dried and vacuum packed. I thus decided to not put them in the oven to disinfect the soil.

As per instructions I added this block in a 10 liter bucket filled with 3 liter of warm water and let it completely soak.

The failure

The following steps highlight the errors I made going further. I recorded them solely for documentary purposes. So be warned: To avoid frustration, I strongly advise you to not do this at home! I made a mistake so that you don’t have to.

The coconut fiber I used was way too wet and soaking up the whole PVA water mix, which one might think is a good thing. The problem however (after 3 days of drying) was that no more PVA glue was left between the base and the coconut fiber.

The result was this:

The majority of the fiber came off, just by slightly rubbing the base. I repeated the process several times by sprinkling thin layers of fiber on the base and soaking it with watered down PVA glue from a spray bottle. The result (after very long drying times) was each time the same.

End of frustration. From here on everything worked out again and I could resume documenting for the Wargames Jungle Terrain Tutorial.

Basing, 2nd try

I chose to completely remove the fiber from the bases, sprinkle on wooden flock aka. saw dust and paint them brown again using my trusty burnt umber:

Base coating the bases again and the removed coconut fiber.

The bases were painted in brown and green tones, using cheap acrylic paints from the big pots.

The following steps are to add static grass and leave litter (dried birch tree seeds).

I then used PVA glue to attach the dried sticks to the base and sealed them with watered down PVA. After drying I toned the wood down with some brown and green inks. After they were completely dried, I sealed them with matt spray from the can. It’s important to do this now if you’re following through with the next step.

Not shown on the picture, I added some glossy water effect to the brown spots to simulate wet areas or puddles of mud. I mixed some brown acrylic paints to the mix to make the water effect even more mud like. It crucial to matt varnish the bases before applying the water effects.

My twelve finished bases:

Here they are in all their glory!

At this stage the bases could perfectly be used for swamp terrain. But this will be another project. I’ve already got some ideas …

Final step: Plants for the jungle

The last part of this Wargames Jungle Terrain Tutorial will be the addition of plastic plants. I bought quite a few (actually too much) of these cheap plastic plants in local ACTION shops over some months.

To stick the in place I simply used hot glue. I started with a highlight plant, added the largest plants around it and finished of with some low plants and Icelandic moss. Even though it looks dense (the effect I was aiming for) I made sure that it’s still possible to position a miniature inside the terrain feature for gaming purposes.

The final result!

I’m pretty pleased with the result:

Conclusion of this tutorial

It was a long process (excluding drying times). I planned to build jungle terrain for a long time and therefore I wanted to first invest some time in it and second build enough pieces to fill a 3×3 ft. gaming table.

Oh, and don’t use wet coconut fiber and PVA glue!

Even though I considered my coconut fiber experiment as a fail, I will however at a later stage further experiment with this material. I’ll use it in its dry form, maybe grind it down to a finer grain. Who knows. A failure can always lead to new ideas.

Have fun crafting your own jungle and learning from your mistakes!

I hope you learned something from this Wargames Jungle Terrain Tutorial.

I plan to use the jungle terrain in an upcoming game of Science-Fiction (Space Weirdos). Stay tuned.

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